A Warning to the Family of Fir’awn: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

The following points of benefit were taken from the social media pages of sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh:

قال تعالى:”ولقد جاء ءال فرعون النذر” والآل ترجع إلى من تبع الرجل في دينه، وآل فرعون من كان على ملة فرعون وعلى دينه.ـ

Allah said:

وَلَقَدْ جَاءَ آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ النُّذُرُ

And a warning certainly came to the Aal Fir’awn [54:41]

and word aal [literally “family/relatives”] refers to whoever follows a person in terms of his religion. So the Aal Fir’awn are whoever was upon the religion and way of life of Fir’awn.

قال تعالى:”ولقد جاء ءال فرعون النذر” لم يذكر البشارة لأنَّ القوم ما هم عليه من الشرك والكفر يستلزم الإنذار والتخويف.ـ

Allah said: Continue reading

The Meaning of Taghoot: Sheikh al-Fawzan

The following question was posed to sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan:

نص السؤال : ما معنى الطاغوت‏؟‏ وهل كل طاغوت كافر‏؟ ـ

Question: What is the meaning of “Taghoot“, and is every taghoot a disbeliever?

‏نص الإجابة : الطاغوت في اللغة مشتق من الطغيان وهو مجاوزة الحد ومجاوزة الحق إلى الباطل ومجاوزة الإيمان إلى الكفر وما أشبه ذلك والطواغيت كثيرون وكل طاغوت فهو كافر بلا شك‏‏  ـ

Response: Linguistically, the word “al-taghoot” comes from “al-tughyaan” which is overstepping the limits, crossing over from truth into falsehood, stepping out of eemaan into disbelief, and so on. There are many taghoots, and every taghoot is a disbeliever. There is no doubt about this.

والطواغيت كثيرون ولكن رءوسهم خمسة كما ذكر ذلك العلامة ابن القيم وغيره‏‏ الأول‏‏ إبليس – لعنة الله – فإنه رأس الطواغيت وهو الذي يدعو إلى الضلال والكفر والإلحاد ويدعو إلى النار فهو رأس الطواغيت‏‏

There are many taghoots but five of them are the main ones, as has been stated by the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim and others.

The first is Iblees, may Allah curse him. He is the head of all the taghoots, and he is the one who calls to misguidance, disbelief, and atheism, and to the hellfire. So he is the head of the taghoots.

والثاني‏‏ من عبد من دون الله وهو راضٍ بذلك فإن من رضي أن يعبده الناس من دون الله فإنه يكون طاغوتًا كما قال تعالى‏‏ ‏( ‏وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ وَعَبَدَ الطَّاغُوتَ ) ‏[‏المائدة : 60‏]‏ فالذي يعبد من دون الله وهو راضٍ بذلك طاغوت أما إذا لم يرض بذلك فليس كذلك‏‏

The second is anyone who is worshiped besides Allah while being pleased with that worship, for whoever is pleased with people worshiping him alongside Allah is a taghoot. This is as Allah said Continue reading

The Different Meanings of al-Thann in the Qur’an

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah:

روى ابن جرير وابن كثير عن مجاهد أنه قال : كل ظن في القرآن يقين . ماذا نفهم من هذا القول مع أن كلمة الظن وردت في القرآن بمعان أخر؟

Both ibn Jarir and ibn Kathir relate a narration from Mujahid in which he said, “Every instance of the word al-Thann [literally: thought, doubt, assumption, conjecture] in the Qur’an means Yaqeen [certainty].”*

How should we understand this statement in light of the fact that the word al-thann is used elsewhere in the Qur’an with other meanings?

The sheikh responded by writing:

عن الضحاك:كل ظن في القرآن من المؤمن فهو يقين،ومن الكافر فهو شك. وعن مجاهد:كل ظن في القرآن فهو يقين. وقول الضحاك أقرب وقد يحمل قول مجاهد على أن الذي يفيد اليقين:ما كان متعلقاً بأمور الآخرة،أما ما كان متعلقاً بأمور الدنيا فيفيد الشك وقد رويت رواية ثانية عن مجاهد تدل على هذا المعنى،وفيها:ظن الآخرة يقين، وظن الدنيا شك؛ ونحو هذا قول قتادة :ما كان من ظن الآخرة فهو علم . ـ

al-Dhahhaak said: Every time the word thann is used in the Qur’an in relation to the believers, it means yaqeen, and every time it is used for the disbelievers, it means “doubt”.

Mujahid said: Every time the word thann is used in the Qur’an, it means yaqeen.

However al-Dhahhaak’s statement is more accurate.

And Mujahid’s statement could also be interpreted to mean that thann takes the meaning of yaqeen when it is connected to matters of the Hereafter, but when it is related to matters of this worldly life it takes the meaning of “doubt”. Continue reading

Why do the Mufassiroon differ?: Ibn Taymiyah

One section of the book Majmoo’ al-Fataawa ibn Taymiyah begins with the following question:

وسئل رحمه الله عن قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم { من فسر القرآن برأيه فليتبوأ مقعده من النار } ” فاختلاف المفسرين في آية واحدة إن كان بالرأي فكيف النجاة ؟ وإن لم يكن بالرأي فكيف وقع الاختلاف والحق لا يكون في طرفي نقيض أفتونا . ؟

He was asked – may Allah have mercy on him – about the statement of the Prophet, “Whoever interprets the Qur’an according to his own opinion, then let him take his seat in the Hell-Fire”:

If the different positions that the hold mufassiroon regarding certain ayah arose due to their personal opinions, then how can they be saved? Or if these different positions where not a product of their own personal opinions then how did these different opinions come to be when the truth is not at odds with itself? Won’t you give us a verdict?

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah responded by saying:

فأجاب رحمه الله تعالى ينبغي أن يعلم أن الاختلاف الواقع من المفسرين وغيرهم على وجهين : ” أحدهما ” ليس فيه تضاد وتناقض ; بل يمكن أن يكون كل منهما حقا وإنما هو اختلاف تنوع أو اختلاف في الصفات أو العبادات وعامة الاختلاف الثابت عن مفسري السلف من الصحابة والتابعين هو من هذا الباب فإن الله سبحانه إذا ذكر في القرآن اسما مثل قوله : { اهدنا الصراط المستقيم } فكل من المفسرين يعبر عن الصراط المستقيم بعبارة يدل بها على بعض صفاته وكل ذلك حق بمنزلة ما يسمى الله ورسوله وكتابه بأسماء كل اسم منها يدل على صفة من صفاته فيقول بعضهم : { الصراط المستقيم } كتاب الله أو اتباع كتاب الله [ ص: 382 ] ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو الإسلام أو دين الإسلام ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو السنة والجماعة ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } طريق العبودية أو طريق الخوف والرجاء والحب وامتثال المأمور واجتناب المحظور أو متابعة الكتاب والسنة أو العمل بطاعة الله أو نحو هذه الأسماء والعبارات . ـ

One needs to understand that the differing which occurs among the mufassiroon – and among others as well – occurs in two ways.

First, there is differing which does not actually involve any opposition or contradiction. In fact, it is possible that both of the different stances are true and that it is only a differing of categorization or a differing in descriptions or acts of worship. Out of what has been authentically transmitted, the bulk of differing among the scholars of tafsir of the salaf, namely the sahabah and the taabi’oon, falls into this category. For when Allah mentions a term in the Qur’an such as His statement: Continue reading

Two Types of Allah’s “With-ness” in Context: Imam al-Sa’di

One of the many beneficial books authored by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di is Tanbeehaat al-Lateefah, an explanation of ibn Taymiyah’s famous al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah. The following is a brief excerpt from that work dealing with better understanding the places in the Qur’an where Allah mentions His “with-ness”:

وإذا أردت أن تعرف هل المراد المعية العامة أو الخاصة، فانظر إلى سياق الآيات: فإن كان المقام مقام تخويف ومحاسبة للعباد على أعمالهم، وحث على المراقبة، فإن المعية عامة، مثل قوله: {مَا يَكُونُ مِنْ نَجْوَى ثَلَاثَةٍ} [المجادلة: 7] الآية، وإن كان المقام مقام لطف وعناية من الله بأنبيائه وأصفيائه، وقد رتبت المعية على الاتصاف بالأوصاف الحميدة، فإن المعية معية خاصة، وهو أغلب إطلاقاتها في القرآن، مثل: {أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ} [التوبة: 123] {إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ} [البقرة: 153] {لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا} [التوبة: 40] ونحوها.ـ

If you want to know whether the intended meaning of Allah’s with-ness in an ayah is general or specific, then look at the context of the ayah. If it comes in a place of intimidation and taking the slave to account for his actions or inciting him to take himself to account then it is a general with-ness, such as His statement:

مَا يَكُونُ مِن نَّجْوَىٰ ثَلَاثَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ رَابِعُهُمْ وَلَا خَمْسَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ سَادِسُهُمْ وَلَا أَدْنَىٰ مِن ذَٰلِكَ وَلَا أَكْثَرَ إِلَّا هُوَ مَعَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كَانُوا ۖ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا عَمِلُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

There is no private conversation of three except that He is the fourth of them, nor of five except that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that nor more except that He is with them wherever they are. Then on the Day of Resurrection He will inform them of what they did. Indeed Allah is all knowing of all things. [58:7]

But if it comes in a place of gentleness and care from Allah towards His prophets and chosen ones and the with-ness is stipulated by some praiseworthy quality, then this is the specific type of with-ness, which is the more commonly-found type in the Qur’an. Examples include: Continue reading

Responding to Allah’s Blessings with Indifference: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says the following in part of surah Luqman:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ الْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِنِعْمَتِ اللَّـهِ لِيُرِيَكُم مِّنْ آيَاتِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ * وَإِذَا غَشِيَهُم مَّوْجٌ كَالظُّلَلِ دَعَوُا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ ۚ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا كُلُّ خَتَّارٍ كَفُورٍ

Do you not see that ships sail through the sea by the favor of Allah that He may show you of His signs? Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful. * And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate to Allah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, then some of them are muqtasid. And none reject Our signs except every treacherous and ungrateful one. [31-31-32]

The salaf and the scholars differed over how to interpret the word muqtasid in this context. al-Haafidh ibn Kathir offered the following discussion of this issue:

قال : ( فلما نجاهم إلى البر فمنهم مقتصد ) قال مجاهد : أي كافر . كأنه فسر المقتصد هاهنا بالجاحد ، كما قال تعالى : ( فلما نجاهم إلى البر إذا هم يشركون ) [ العنكبوت : 65 ] . ـ

Allah says:

فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ

But when He delivers them to the land, then some of them are muqtasid

Mujahid said, “meaning disbelievers”.

It is as if he was interpreting the word al-muqtasid in this instance in the sense of one who denies Allah’s sole right to be worshipped, as Allah said:

فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ

But when He delivers them to the land, then they associate others with Him in worship [29:65] Continue reading

The Duty of the Scholars to Prohibit and Warn Against Evil: al-Shawkaani & al-Sa’di

In part of surah al-Maa’idah Allah criticizes a number of characteristics of the Jews, and then says:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why don’t the rabbis and religious scholars forbid them from saying what is sinful and devouring what is unlawful? How wretched is what they have been making. [5:63]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani comments on this in his tafsir by writing:

 ثم وبخ علماءهم في تركهم لنهيهم فقال : لبئس ما كانوا يصنعون وهذا فيه زيادة على قوله : ( لبئس ما كانوا يعملون ) ؛ لأن العمل لا يبلغ درجة الصنع حتى يتدرب فيه صاحبه ، ولهذا تقول العرب : سيف صنيع إذا جود عامله عمله ، فالصنع هو العمل الجيد لا مطلق العمل  ـ

So Allah rebukes their scholars for neglecting their duty to forbid their people from sins.

Then Allah says:

لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

How wretched is what they have been yasna’oon [making]

and this is something more emphatic than if He had said

لبئس ما كان يعملون

How wretched is what they have been y’amaloon [doing]

because mere “doing” does not reach the level of “making” until the person involved has received a sufficient level of training and expertise. This is why in the Arabic language, one says

سيف صنيع

sanee’ [finely-crafted] sword

when its maker has embellished his work. So the word sana’ [making] is well-done work; it cannot be used to describe just any work.

فوبخ سبحانه الخاصة ، وهم العلماء التاركون للأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر بما هو أغلظ وأشد من توبيخ فاعل المعاصي

So Allah is reprimanding one group in particular – that is, the scholars who have abandoned their duty to command the good and forbid evil. And here Allah is reprimanding them in a harsher and more severe manner than the reprimand given to one who commits acts of disobedience himself. Continue reading

These are the Hudood of Allah: Sheikh al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan mentioned the following point of benefit in the midst of explaining the Mufassal surahs:

قال (وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ) أي : محرماته ، فتطلق حدود الله على منهياته ، وتطلق على مباحاته . فإذا كانت الحدود المحرمات فإن الله قال : (تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا) فلا تقرب . وإذا كانت الحدود من المباحات فإنها لا تتعدى ، قال : (تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ) ، لا تتعد الحلال إلى الحرام . والمراد هنا إخراج المطلقة عن بيتها من غير مبرر شرعي . ثم بين الله جريمة من يتعدى حدود الله ، فقال : (وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ) حيث عرضها لعقاب الله . ـ

Allah said:

وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ

… These are the hudood of Allah … [65:1]

meaning the things which He has forbidden.

This term, the hudood of Allah – the “limits of Allah” – is sometimes used to refer to the things which He has prohibited and other times is used to refer to things which are permissible.

When it is referring to those forbidden hudood, then Allah says:

تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا

These are the hudood of Allah so do not approach them [2:187]

so do not even get close to them.

When it is referring to those permissible hudood, then these limits should not be crossed. Allah said: Continue reading

The Meanings of the Word Fitnah in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following in part of his explanation of surah al-Nur:

قال مقيده – عفا الله عنه وغفر له – : قد دل استقراء القرآن العظيم أن الفتنة فيه أطلقت على أربعة معان : ـ

The author – may Allah pardon and forgive him – says: An investigation of the Qur’an shows that the word “fitnah” carries four different meanings within it.

الأول : أن يراد بها الإحراق بالنار ; كقوله تعالى : يوم هم على النار يفتنون [ 51 \ 13 ] ، وقوله تعالى : إن الذين فتنوا المؤمنين والمؤمنات الآية [ 85 \ 10 ] ، أي : أحرقوهم بنار الأخدود على القول بذلك . ـ

The first meaning: That it is used to refer to being burned by fire, such as in Allah’s statement:

يَوْمَ هُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ يُفْتَنُونَ

the Day they will be tormented over the Fire [51:13]

as well as His statement:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ فَتَنُوا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَتُوبُوا فَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابُ الْحَرِيقِ

Indeed, those who have tortured the believing men and believing women and then have not repented will have the punishment of Hell, and they will have the punishment of the Burning Fire. [85:10]

meaning: they burned them with the fire of the trench, according to this interpretation of the word.

الثاني وهو أشهرها : إطلاق الفتنة على الاختبار ; كقوله تعالى : ونبلوكم بالشر والخير فتنة الآية [ 21 \ 35 ] ، وقوله تعالى : وأن لو استقاموا على الطريقة لأسقيناهم ماء غدقا لنفتنهم فيه [ 72 \ 16 – 17 ] . ـ

The second meaning, which is the most well-known: Using the word “fitnah” to refer to a trial. This is like Allah’s statement:

وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

… and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned. [21:35]

and His statement:

وَأَن لَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاءً غَدَقًا * لِّنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ

If they had believed in Allah, and went on the Right Way We should surely have bestowed on them water in abundance. * That We might try them thereby. [72:16-17] Continue reading

Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

One of the many written works of ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is his Risalah al-Tabookiyyah which centers Allah’s command at the beginning of surah al-Ma’idah for the believers to help one another in al-birr and al-taqwa [5:3]. After describing many aspects of this ayah and its implications, ibn al-Qayyim then wrote:

ورأس الأمر وعموده في ذلك إنما هو دوام التفكر وتدبر آيات الله حيث تستولي على الفكر وتشغل القلب فإذا صارت معاني القرآن مكان الخواطر من قلبه وجلس على كرسيه، وصار له التصرف، وصار هو الأمير المطاع أمره، فحينئذ يستقيم له سيره ويتضح له الطريق وتراه ساكنا وهو يباري الريح {وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ} . ـ

At the head of all of this and its very foundation is for one to always contemplate and reflect on the ayaat of the Qur’an, so much so that it overpowers one’s other thoughts and becomes the central concern of one’s heart. When the messages of the Qur’an take the place that mere passing thoughts previously held in his heart and begin to rule over it, being what turns his heart and the ruler that it obeys, then his journey becomes smooth and his course becomes clear. So even if it appeared that he was standing still he is in fact moving forward towards Allah fast as the wind.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. It is the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. [27:88]

فان قلت: إنك قد أشرت إلى مقام عظيم فافتح لي بابه، واكشف لي حجابه، وكيف تدبر القرآن وتفهمه والإشراف على عجائبه وكنوزه؟ وهذه تفاسير الأئمة بأيدينا، فهل في البيان غير ما ذكروه؟ ـ

Now if you were to say, “You have just described a great station, so open up its door for me and remove its veil for me – how does one contemplate and understand the the Qur’an grasp its amazements and great treasures? We have the explanations of the great scholars of tafsir with us, is there anything else to understand the Qur’an beyond what they have already done?”

[See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh]

قلت: سأضرب لك أمثالاً تحتذي عليها وتجعلها إماماً لك في هذا المقصد، قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ، فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} . ـ

My response would be: Let me give you some things that you can take as an example and a model to follow for this goal.

Allah says: Continue reading